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Philippines says thanks to Taiwan for typhoon relief at national day celebration

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Philippine envoys yesterday expressed gratitude for Taiwan's assistance and support in the wake of Super Typhoon Haiyan that swept through the Southeast Asian country last November at a national day celebration held in Taipei, yesterday.

Amadeo Perez, chairman of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO), which represent Manila's interests in Taiwan in the absence of bilateral ties, said Taiwan is among the first who respond to the Philippine call for help after tens of thousands people lost their lives in the wake of the fatal typhoon when it struck the central part of the Philippines, last year.

Taiwan has donated more than US$200,000 in disaster relief in the wake of the tragedy. Public and private donors in Taiwan also gave supplies and other aid to the Philippines, he noted.

To express the country's gratitude, the envoy said the Philippines has bought advertisements in Taiwanese newspapers yesterday.

The envoy made the comments during his address at a celebration of the 116th anniversary of his nation's independence day in Taipei.

Speaking during the same event, Antonio Basilio, MECO's resident representative in Taipei, also expressed gratitude to Taiwan for the post-disaster relief efforts.

Stressing that Taiwan has always been one of the closest friends of the Philippines, Basilio said, noting that Taiwan ranks in the top ten in terms of trade, investment and tourisms with the Philippines.

However, an incident has temporarily strained bilateral ties last year, the envoy noted.

The incident Basilio was referring to is the shooting death of a fisherman aboard a Taiwanese fishing boat that was operating in the overlapping exclusive economic zones of the two countries on May 19, 2013.

Calling the incident “the severest test” the two sides have faced in the long history of bilateral friendship, the MECO official said the strength of the friendship and shared values of democracy and rule of law enable the two sides to overcome the test.

Joint Economic Committee to Convene

Looking forward to the future, Taipei and Manila are also hoping to expand bilateral trade and business relations, he noted.

The two sides are expected to convene a joint economic committee in “the last quarter of this year” to discuss ways to expand bilateral trade and investment and studying the feasibility in singing an economic partnership agreement, he noted.

Taiwan's Deputy Foreign Minister Joseph Shih (石定) yesterday participated the event on behalf of the R.O.C. government.

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Taiwan's Deputy Foreign Minister Joseph Shih (石定), third from the left, Antonio Basilio, Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) resident representative in Taipei, fourth from the left, and Amadeo Perez, chairman of MECO, third from the right, pose for photographs during a event to celebrate the Philippines National Day in Taipei, yesterday. (Joseph Yeh, The China Post)

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